Category Archives: Research and Reflection

Research Point

Henri Cartier-Bresson Documentary L’amour de Court

 This film in 5 parts, some of which was without sound I was quite challenging. Unlike many documentaries which tend to tell a story from start to finish or a collection of similar themes didn’t seem to be present. Although I had heard of Cartier-Bresson I couldn’t really say much about him which may be why I found this so difficult to establish anything.

After the first part I looked at 3 books to help me establish more about him and to try to understand his style. These were Photography the Definitive Visual History, The Genius of Photography and 100 ideas that Changed Photography.

In the Documentary4 Cartier-Bresson states ‘What Matters is to look but people don’t look’. I took this that in the context of growing up he had several influences around him such as brothels, Catholics and prisons. From this it appears to suggest that he had started to reflect on his surroundings and the idea of ‘foreground and background’ (Warner Marien, 2012, p81)3. In the film he then refers to ‘you have to be receptive’4. However, describing the image ‘Footfall in flooded square’ with ‘the drama and wit of this image hinge upon the foot about to get wet’ (Ang, 2014, p204)1 he relies on putting the camera through railings to take the shot. So he didn’t actually see the image through the lens.

This, his street shots and later his tours around the world he explained ‘was the moment when every element came together’ (Badger, 2014, p11)2. This was his ‘Decisive Moment’. His belief that ‘you can’t correct it or it is the next picture’ 4 and ‘life is once forever’ 4 reaffirms this view that everything we see is just there for a moment in time then it is something else. He also mentions that he does not see himself as a reporter but just recording events particularly where there is a ‘strong relationship of shapes’ 4.

I found this to be quite a challenging exercise, but once I had carried out additional research in various other books it all started to come together and make sense. I feel this resulted in me gaining a considerable insight how to start and appreciate photographers and their work rather than just at a surface level.


1 Ang, Tom (2014) Photography the definitive visual history. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited

2 Badger, Gerry (2014) The genius of photography: How photography has changed our lives: Quadrille Publishing Limited

3 Warner Marien, Mary (2012) 100 ideas that changed photography. London: Laurence King Publishing Limited

 4 (Accessed 24.03.17, 25.03.17)